Reluctant Readers: A Parent's Guide to Keeping it Fun!

Posted on | Rachel Bishop

You see and hear this everywhere you turn, but I have to say it once more. It is SO very important for you to be reading with your child every day or nearly every day. The hard part is making it fun. Here are a few suggestions for making reading a better experience, for both you and him.

Interest > Boredom

Choose books that interest your son. This is an important element in engaging him as a reader. If you have a resistant reader and the content is not to his liking, it may be perceived as tedious. This is the last thing we want. Whether it is action, mischief, humor, or gross things, if it will get him reading, then go with it!

Something else to remember… if a book is a chore for you to read, it will be for him as well. Don’t be afraid to say, “This book is boring. Let’s choose another!” He will appreciate your honesty.

Read It Again

Rereading a story has benefits. The second, third, or even fourth reading can improve fluency, inflection, and comprehension. These books probably should be a little more challenging. You need to show excitement, even disbelief at how much better he reads it each time.

Take it to the Next Level

Get your son to compete with himself! The more times he reads a passage or story, the better he will get. Feel free to model what a passage should sound like when being read on the expert level.

The different types of levels can be explained this way: - STUDENT: sounding out words, choppy (This is normal on the first attempt, and he might need a reminder.) - ROBOT: able to read all of the words, but still sounds a little boring - EXPERT: able to read without mistakes and to use expression in his voice

Remind him that even adults might not read on the expert level without reading it a few times!

Enthusiasm is Contagious

Our lives are busy and fitting in time to read is often difficult. That said, he still needs to read. Make the decision early to put on a happy face during this time.

If he knows it is an imposition for you to put this time aside, it will be reflected in his effort and enthusiasm. Even if you must pretend, be excited and be a cheerleader. If you are reading a chapter book, tell him that you CANNOT wait to read the next chapter tomorrow night.

Tell him that you CANNOT believe he was able to sound out a particular word. When you drop him off in the morning, tell him that you were amazed at how well he read last night and you CANNOT wait to see if he can do it again tonight.

Don’t Forget the Fun

Model when it is an appropriate part to giggle in the story. Ask him to tell his aunt about the funny part in the story he read to you.

You get the idea. If you act excited, he will be excited. If you act frustrated, he will be frustrated. If you have had a bad day and are short on patience, then it may be a night to skip. Keep it positive, and I promise this time will be beneficial. Don’t allow the perception that reading is a chore to creep into your evening routine. Keep in mind that this is only temporary, but the payoff is infinite!


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Presbyterian Day School (PDS) is a private, Christian preschool and elementary school serving boys from 2-years-old through 6th grade for almost 75 years.

With our mission of striving to glorify God by developing boys in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, we take a holistic approach to education, nurturing the heart, soul, mind, and body of each boy.

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